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Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Enhancing Accessibility to E-Government Processes

Enhancing Accessibility to E-Government Processes
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Author(s): Stefan Richter (Institute for Software Systems in Business, Environment and Administration, Germany), Norbert Kuhn (Institute for Software Systems in Business, Environment and Administration, Germany), Stefan Naumann (Institute for Software Systems in Business, Environment and Administration, Germany) and Michael Schmidt (Institute for Software Systems in Business, Environment and Administration, Germany)
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 20
Source title: Handbook of Research on E-Government Readiness for Information and Service Exchange: Utilizing Progressive Information Communication Technologies
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Hakikur Rahman (University of Minho, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-671-6.ch009

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Abstract

Many governmental institutions have started to provide their customers with access to governmental documents by electronic means. This changes the way of interaction between authorities and citizens considerably. Hence, it is worthwhile to look at both the chances and the risks that this process of change implies for disabled citizens. Due to different laws or legal directives governmental authorities have a particular responsibility to consider also the needs of handicapped persons. Therefore, they need to apply appropriate techniques for these groups to avoid an “Accessibility Divide”. This discussion is built on the observation that governmental processes are mostly based on the exchange of forms between authorities and citizens. Authors state that such processes can be distinguished into three scenarios, with the use of paper as means of transport on the one end and complete electronic treatment at the other end. For each scenario there exist tools to improve accessibility for people with certain disabilities. These tools include standard technologies like improved Web access by magnifying characters, assistive technologies like document cameras, and more sophisticated approaches like integrated solutions for handling forms and government processes. This chapter focuses on approaches that provide access to governmental processes for people with visual impairments, elderly people, illiterates, or immigrants. Additionally, it sees a chance to enable electronic government processes in developing countries where the citizens have less experience in handling IT-based processes. The main part of the chapter describes an approach to combine scanned images of paper-based forms containing textual information and textto- speech synthesis yielding an audio-visual document representation. It exploits standard document formats based on XML and web service technology to achieve independency from software and hardware platforms. This is also helpful for conventional governmental processes because people within the group of interest stated above often also have problems to access non-digitized information, for instance when they have to read announcements within public administration offices.

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